Thursday, April 21, 2011

Five Questions for a Scientist: John Cho

This month's "Five Questions" is with MIT Lincoln Laboratory scientist and SPAM Haiku Archive Master Emeritus (SHAME) John Cho.  The Archive is no longer accepting submissions, but it's certainly worth browsing or checking out the printed book, SPAM-ku.  Let's see what he has to say (now, in haiku form)!

1. Did the SPAM-ku phenomenon originate with you, or were these poems already floating around the Internet before you got involved?

Forwarded e-mail
Anonymous SPAM haiku
Origin unknown

2. What finally forced the SPAM-ku archive to close its doors to new submissions?

Job, marriage, children
Spring, summer, autumn, winter
Job, marriage, kids, cat

3. Could you explain for us-- preferably in 17 syllables-- what anisotropic scaling turbulence is?  What relation does it have to wind shear?

Big whorls have small whorls that lead
To a viscous grave*

4. Where do contrails come from?

Jets spew wet vapor
Condensation nuclei
Blue-sky Etch A Sketch

5. How does a knowledge of poetry influence a scientist (and vis versa)?

Poems have spanking
Signal-to-noise ratios
When tuned to the truth

* Apologies to Lewis F. Richardson

JOHN CHO supplied his bio in haiku form as well:

JFK shot down
JNC born in Tokyo
Makes Boston his home

You can find his CV at his MIT page here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Miami University HOOOOOOOOOO!

A bit of slightly belated but awesome news: our associate editor Caitlin Martin has received a teaching assistantship at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio!  We're darned proud of her and hope to see a new crowd of Miami-ites.... Miami-ers... um... Buckeyes?  No, that's Ohio State.  Well, whatever people who go to Miami are called, we're proud she's one!

Monday, April 18, 2011

New Word Order Chapbook Details

Just a heads up: there are now some details of the New Word Order Chapbook Contest on our submissions page.  Also: still 13 days to contribute to the effort!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Five Questions for a Director: Steven Tsuchida

Rather than give a book review during our SPAM month, we instead bring you an interview with Steven Tsuchida, director of the fabulous (in every sense of the word) 2004 short film Spam-ku: I Won a Haiku Contest about SPAM.  We here at High Coup Journal consider this film to not only be beautiful but also to represent just about everything we stand for.  Anyway, to the interview!  Here we go...

1. The final scene in your 2004 short film is both humorous and really pretty frickin' eerie.  What inspired it?

I would think no one could prepare for turning into a block of Spam.  So there wasn't any direct inspiration. However, I grew up in Hawaii where SPAM consumption is the highest per capita in the United States. I myself have consumed an embarrassing amount of SPAM in my lifetime. It's quite common. It's even served in all of the McDonald's in town - as well as similar fine dining establishments.  It's only when I came to the continental United States where I learned of the irony/sarcasm/humor of SPAM. I thought everyone ate SPAM.  And, as far as turning into SPAM? Well, you know what they say... you are what we eat.

2. As a director, is it easier or harder to coach actors towards behaving in a sincerely awkward fashion?

Life is just as, or even more awkward, then the cinema. An actor simply needs to refer to their own lives and the awkwardness comes out. Even the coolest kid in school looks in the mirror and sees a little bit of geek reflected back. We are all awkward animals, so it's not a far stretch to act awkward.

The difficult part is being sincere. Meaning, the awkwardness needs to feel real and not an act. Awkwardness is intended for the viewer to feel sympathy to the actor. But if the audience feels like it is an act, the awkwardness is insulting, and you lose the sympathy vote for the actor. Sincerity is the key to acting.

3. (Total fanboy question, sorry): You got to work with Sarah Silverman a few times-- how was that???

It doesn't get better. No scratch that. If she ate Spam, it would be better.

4. But back to your work, what're you up to these days?

I'm prepping a webisode starring Rick Fox.
That's right. RICK FOX!
Trust me. Hilarity will ensue.

5. Haiku is about the shortest form of poetry out there.  Do you see any overlaps between haiku and short film?

Absolutely. The beauty of a haiku is that it maximizes an economy of words that will resonates far beyond it's tiny stature. What I love about an effective haiku is the "aha" effect that it instills. A great haiku illuminates a truth, connecting to the viewer on both a universal level and a personal level. There is a clarity to the words that sheds light on the human condition. Like a haiku, the best shorts work because of there simplicity in the idea and clarity in storytelling.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: The Spam Museum

It was week two of the epic family journey west.  Two weeks, two kids, two adults, cramped car, you know the story.  We had checked in with home the night before, and found a major storm had passed through leaving no damage, but no electricity.  No reason to hurry home.

We stopped at the Minnesota Welcome Center on I-90 and found the brochure.  Just up the road could possibly be the most interesting part of the trip, or possibly the worst.  You see, we love unique roadside attractions.  In our trips west, we have visited the World’s Largest Hand-Dug Well, the World’s Second Largest Hand Dug Well (if you have seen #1, you must see #2), the World’s Largest Ball of Twine and the infamous Prairie Dog Town.  It would be difficult to top such sites, but this looked promising.

We traveled east to Austin, MN and followed the signs.  There was nothing very unique about the town.  In fact, as I recall, it was uber-ordinary, until we turned into the parking lot.  There before us stood the SPAM Museum.  New, gleaming, inviting; not at all what I was expecting. I am not sure what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it.

At the entrance, we were greeted by friendly locals who welcomed us and served us little squares of SPAM, each impaled upon a pretzel.  Nice presentation; more creative than the usual toothpick.  Did I mention the “wall of SPAM?”  The entire entrance to the museum is made of SPAM cans, floor to ceiling.

Once inside, we watched a short film on the history of SPAM, how it is made, and other fascinating trivia.  It was all very entertaining, and at no time did they take themselves too seriously.  It was all done with a wink.  Then, it was off to see the exhibits.  Here, we “experienced” interesting displays, such as SPAM’s role in WWII, played a SPAM Game Show, and many other interactive displays.  It appealed to the kids as well as Mom and Dad, who had worked in the museum business for a number of years and are hard to impress.

I almost hate to spoil the ending, so if you are planning to go, please skip to the next paragraph.

If you cannot envision anyone wanting to experience SPAM, read on.  You may change your mind.  When we approached the last corner, we began to hear the familiar strains of Monty Python’s “SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM.”  Yes, there it was, the diner from the famous skit, recreated down to the last detail.   The skit is played on video screens mounted above the counter.  It was almost too good to be true!

As with any quality museum, you exit through the gift shop, where we were able to buy all things SPAM, from golf balls to underwear.  Oh yes, we were also able to purchase any of the nine varieties of SPAM available.  Somehow it seemed appropriate, even though I was not a big fan of the product.

The SPAM Museum is open seven days per week, with the usual holiday closings.  Best of all, it is free of charge, quite unusual for a museum of this quality. The SPAM Museum is located at 1101 N. Main Street in Austin, Minnesota. The phone number is 1-800-LUV-SPAM.  Well worth the drive, even if you find the product not of your liking, the museum is a blast.

MICKI MORAHN (BA- Indiana University, MA- Indiana State University) has worked for the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites as operator of an 1880s water-powered mill.  She currently teaches American History for ISU in Corrections Education Program and at St-Mary-of-the-Woods MicCollege. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

High Coup Journal - April 2011 Issue

(Photo actually NOT by Ann Wright, Plymouth, IN.  This is an anonymous photo.)



Salvatore Buttaci (Princeton, WV)

Tom Carbaugh (Plymouth, IN)

Sarah Dubinsky (Dunellen, NJ )

Samuel Franklin (Terre Haute, IN)

Rick Hartwell (Moreno Valley, California)

Kevin James (Terre Haute, IN)

Edward Jones (Stevens Point, WI)

Hal O’Leary (Wheeling, WV)

Mitzi Sicking (Midland, TX)

Jari Thymian (Aurora, CO)

Henry Visotski (Brooklyn, NY)


Editor's Note:

SPAM: discovered love,
just like bad haiku, I think.
So sweet, so salty.

People might make fun of SPAM for being gross or slimy or covered in "spucus" (the fat that congeals at the top of a can that's so akin to mucus), but what has been enlightening about this contest is the fact that we've gotten some Hawaiians and WWII veterans who really stood up and said, Hey, SPAM is a food we like.  As with anything (apart from haiku), we recommend SPAM in moderation.  But just as they say "there are no atheists in foxholes," we suspect there are few vegans.

EDIT: Strike that.  One of our veteran poets confirmed that he is now a vegetarian.  Twelve years in the SPAM-a-lot army may have done that to him.  And as for the contest, one good sport mentioned, "Although I am sad to not have won the grand prize, I can console myself with the fact that the grand prize was SPAM."  Thank you all for submitting!


Tom Carbaugh

It isn't Kosher,
but it's got the sodium
that your body needs.


Sarah Dubinsky

How SPAM-alicious
The can's rendering of you
All pig and all parts


Samuel Franklin 

Sacrificial SPAM

Flesh-cube, poor piglets
were spiced and mashed to make you. 
Thanks, piggy martyrs.

Best Sex Ever

Pink ‘neath her panties
reeked of slimy SPAM. Greasy
screw, lunch is on you.   


Edward Jones

 SPAM is like pussy:
more time's spent getting it out
than in eating it

SPAM is like pussy:
more men have died eating it
than have needed to


Salvatore Buttaci

mostly pork shoulder
chopped in a glaze of aspic
sandwiched in white bread

a simple wedding--
they toast with empty glasses
and dine on hot SPAM


Mitzi Sicking


Fry it up and slide
Between two white bread slices.
Slap your mama good.


Henry Visotski

Hey kids, daddy's home!
Delicious SPAM for dinner.
Now we feast like kings.


Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert

On a post-war Earth--
nuclear fallout; SPAM mutates;
it becomes sentient.


Kevin James

The Hawaiian steak
Should be something tropical
Not spiced shoulder meat

Here! Salty war meat!
It’s great food for the road and
Helps fight the Nazis!

Hal O’Leary


Warmth in a frozen
fox-hole, comfort surrounds us
my K-ration spam.


Rick Hartwell

Hawaiian delight
meaty subversive mixture
canned fat concoction

Ks Cs MREs
60 years Spam goes to war
move pork futures up


April 2011 AWESOME SAUCE and SPAM-KU SPECIAL winner: Jari Thymian

my grandma’s love-wich
homemade bread with pan-fried Spam
died, gone to heaven


Look for SPAM all month,
and then we'll never again
tackle this topic.

highcoupjournal {at}